In basketball, first-step quickness is vital to success on the court. Optimizing your first step will allow you to create separation and help you make transition plays more effectively. There are a variety of ways to develop first-step quickness.
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In this article, we will focus on three variables that can enhance a basketball player’s quickness. Mechanical drills such as the Acceleration Wall Drill help to reinforce posture. Plyometrics develop explosiveness, quickness and assist with injury prevention. Reaction drills improve speed and coordination.
Acceleration Wall Drill
This drill helps put the body in an optimal position for leg action and body posture. It helps a player develop motor skills that transfer into great technique specific to sprinting.
Benefits: Trains the movement pattern of acceleration.
- Standing with your back against a wall, take one step forward, then turn around and place your arms on the wall.
- Lift your left or right knee to hip-height.
- Keep your toes up and parallel to your thigh.
- Rapidly switch legs and hold position for 2-3 seconds.
- Repeat for specified reps.
- Keep your arms in line with your shoulders.
- Each rep will have you exchanging legs for a specified number of reps (i.e., single exchange will switch legs one time; a double exchange will rapidly switch legs two times, etc.)
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Plyometrics improve explosiveness for vertical jumping and first-step quickness. It allows basketball players to produce maximal force quickly. Broad Jumps can help a basketball player express a higher amount of force horizontally, basically allowing him or her to move quicker going forward.
Benefits: The Broad Jump is a great foundational drill to enhance explosiveness.
Sets/Reps: 2×5 jumps
- Start in an athletic position with a wide base, knees slightly bent, arms slightly bent at the side in a ready position.
- Explode forward as far as possible by cycling your legs underneath your hips.
- Land as softly as possible with your hips higher than your knees.
- Repeat for specified amount of jumps.
- As you jump, move your arms forward to develop momentum.
- Cycle your legs underneath your hips to cover more ground.
- Absorb the ground by doing your best to land softly.
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Ball Drop Reaction Drills
Reaction drills are seldom used in training but are essential to success. The ability to react to constant changes on the court makes for versatility. A well-rounded player will not only be able to achieve success, but play at the highest level. The Ball Drop Drill is a great drill to enhance reaction in basketball.
Benefits: Quickness and coordination
Sets/Duration: 2×30 seconds each side
- Have a partner stand about a foot and a half away with two tennis balls held at his sides.
- Once your partner drops the tennis ball, sprint and catch it.
- Sprint to the side that the partner drops the ball.
- Once your partner drops the ball, sprint and catch it so the ball doesn’t bounce twice.
- Return ball to partner and repeat.
- This drill can also be done while dribbling a basketball as a progression.